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The best cloud and IT Ops conferences of 2020

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John P. Mello Jr., Freelance writer

Maintaining and transforming data center operations is a tough job. Whether you've got public, private, or hybrid cloud infrastructure and services, each case presents unique challenges.

That's why people in ops, cloud, and IT management need to share their stories. If IT pros can learn from one another, everyone gets better—and attending conferences is a crucial part of doing that.

Here's TechBeacon's shortlist of the most popular cloud and IT Ops conferences in 2020.

January

Microsoft Ignite|The Tour

Twitter: @MS_Ignite / #MSIgnite
Web: microsoft.com/en-ca/ignite-the-tour/#cities
Date: January-May
Location: Cities across the globe
Cost: Free, with registration

Microsoft is taking its popular Ignite conference on the road, offering developers and tech professionals a venue to explore the latest developer tools and cloud technologies, as well as learn new ways to code, optimize cloud infrastructure, and modernize an organization with deep technical training. Cities on the tour that have been scheduled so far: Washington, DC; Chicago, Illinois; Seoul, South Korea; Osaka, Japan; Sydney, Australia; Taipei, Taiwan; Singapore; Shanghai, China; Hong Kong; Mumbai, India; Bangalore, India; London, UK; Milan, Italy; Johannesburg, South Africa; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Prague, Czech Republic; Copenhagen, Denmark; Zurich, Switzerland; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Madrid, Spain; Tel Aviv, Israel; Berlin, Germany; Mexico City, Mexico; and Stockholm, Sweden.

Who should attend: Microsoft developers

February

Pink20

Twitter: @theitilexperts / #Pink20
Web: pinkelephant.com/en-ca/Pink20/Home
Dates: February 16-19
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Cost: Standard pass, $2,295; platinum pass, $2,595

With over 120 sessions, 12 tracks, and an assortment of half-day workshops, the Pink IT service management conference has something for everyone, whether they be interested in strategic, tactical, or operational subjects. Topics covered include ITSM, ITIL, lean IT, agile, Scrum, DevOps, COBIT, organizational change management, and business relationship management. The theme for Pink 20 is Batman—a superhero without super powers who is illustrative of how ordinary people can do extraordinary things in IT.

Who should attend: C-level executives, IT directors, vice presidents, IT service and support managers, service desk managers, IT infrastructure managers, process owners, senior support analysts, quality managers, service level managers, project or program directors and managers, IT auditors, IT consultants, and IT suppliers and vendors

March

DataWorks Summit

Twitter: @DataWorksSummit
Web: dataworkssummit.com
Date: March
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Cost (2019): €750 to €975 (time-sensitive discounts available)

These conferences hosted by Hortonworks, an open-source data management platform provider, focus on how organizations are using advanced analytics, data science, and artificial intelligence to transform the way they deliver customer and product experiences. Tracks at the conference include artificial intelligence and data science; cloud and big data architecture; data warehousing and operational data stores; and IoT and streaming analytics. In addition to the Barcelona conference, a sister event is expected to be held in the United States.

Who should attend: Developers, data scientists, business managers, security pros, app development, architects, and storage managers

Cloud Expo Europe

Twitter: @CloudExpoEurope / #CEE20
Web: cloudexpoeurope.com
Date: March 11-12
Location: London, UK
Cost: Free, with registration

More than 500 of the world's leading suppliers exhibit at this event, which also includes 600-plus speakers talking about industry trends, offering practical advice, tech deep dives and lessons learned, and myths in need of debunking. Your free ticket is also good for visiting the following co-located events: DevOps Live, Cloud & Cyber Security Expo, Smart IoT, Big Data & AI World, Blockchain Technology World, and Data Centre World.

Who should attend: Technologists, business leaders, and senior business managers

Strata Data & AI Conference

Twitter: @strataconf / #StrataDataAI
Web: conferences.oreilly.com/strata-data-ai/stai-ca
Dates: March 15-18
Location: San Jose, California, USA
Cost: Conference, $1,345 to $2,145 (time-sensitive discounts available)

Formerly known as the Strata Conference, the event now called the Strata Data & AI Conference was created in 2012, when O'Reilly and Cloudera brought together their two successful big-data conferences. The event is composed of two days of training sessions and two days of keynotes and sessions. Training and conference sessions cover cutting-edge data science, artificial intelligence, big data, and new business fundamentals. Sister shows are being held in London, UK (April 20-23), and New York, New York (September 14-17).

Who should attend: Business analysts, strategists, architects, developers, data scientists, data analysts, CxOs, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, product managers, marketing pros, and researchers

Data Center World

Twitter: @datacenterworld / #datacenterworld
Web: tmt.knect365.com/data-center-world
Date: March 16-19
Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Cost: Ranges from $1,495 to $2,795 (time-sensitive and AFCOM discounts available).

Each year, more than 1,000 data center, facilities, and IT infrastructure professionals attend this conference, which is sponsored by the Association for Computer Operations Management (AFCOM) and has an agenda crafted by its more than 3,500 members. 2020 conference tracks include "Data Center Planning for Innovation"; "Data Center Essentials"; "Design, Build, Operate, and Automate"; "Data Center IT Infrastructure and Platforms"; "Mission-Critical Facilities and Energy Management"; and "Optimizing Data Center Performance and Delivery."

Who should attend: Data center and IT infrastructure pros

Micro Focus Universe

Twitter: #microfocusuniverse
Web: microfocus.com/en-us/events/microfocus-universe-2020/overview
Date: March 17-19
Location: The Hague, Netherlands
Cost (2019): €555

This event largely for Micro Focus customers consists of five tracks— collaboration solutions, application modernization, security, risk and governance, hybrid IT management, and enterprise DevOps. The tracks are designed to build the skills of conference-goers and address common technology challenges facing organizations engaged in digital transformation. Some 150 breakout sessions and 60 demos and hands-on workshops are also planned for the event. A sister event is scheduled for May 19-21 in San Antonio, Texas, USA.

Who should attend: Micro Focus customers from Europe, the Middle East, and Africa; business executives and technical users; alliance, channel, and reseller partners

KubeCon/CloudNativeCon

Twitter: @KubeCon_ /@CloudNativeFdn / #CloudNativeCon
Web: events.linuxfoundation.org/kubecon-cloudnativecon-europe
Date: March 30-April 2
Location: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Cost: $150 to $1,550 (time-sensitive, academic, and individual discounts available)

KubeCon and CloudNativeCon are a single conference sponsored by the Linux Foundation and the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). The conference brings together leading contributors in cloud-native applications, containers, microservices, and orchestration. The conference also focuses on open-source projects, including Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, gRPC, CoreDNS, containerd, rkt, and CNI. In addition to the Amsterdam conference, sister conferences are scheduled for Shanghai, China (July 28-30), and Boston, Massachusetts (November 17-20).

Who should attend: Application developers, IT operations staff, technical managers, line-of-business leaders, end users, service providers, CNCF community ambassadors, CNCF contributors, and people looking to learn more about cloud native

April

Cloud Data Summit

Twitter: @clouddatasummit
Web: clouddatasummit.com
Date: April
Location: Online
Cost (2019): $497 to $1,297 (time-sensitive discounts available)

The Cloud Data Summit bills itself as a conference about the cloud in the cloud. The virtual forum emphasizes the practical aspects of cloud computing and focuses on the experience of companies that have migrated their data platforms from on-premises operations to the cloud and how they've redesigned those platforms to take advantage of the endless storage and computing power of the cloud.

Who should attend: CxOs, data professionals, and chief data officers

Google Cloud Next

Twitter: @googlecloud
Web: cloud.withgoogle.com/next/sf/
Date: April 6-8
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost: $1,699 (group, government, and academic discounts available)

Google Cloud Next focuses on Google's infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service cloud computing services for businesses. Tracks include infrastructure and operations, app development, and data and analytics.

Who should attend: IT Ops pros and developers using Google Cloud Platform services

Red Hat Summit

Twitter: @RedHatSummit / #RHSummit
Web: redhat.com/en/summit
Date: April 27-29
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost: $1,250 to $1,995 (time-sensitive, government, academic, and other discounts available)

This conference focuses on Red Hat's technology strategy and newest open-source products, with participation from the company's product and technology leaders. There are also customer panel sessions, technical sessions, and hands-on labs.

Who should attend: Sysadmins, IT engineers, software architects, vice presidents of IT, and CxOs

May

Dell Technologies World

Twitter: @DellTechWorld / #DellTechWorld
Web: delltechnologiesworld.com/index.htm
Date: May 4-7
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Cost: $2,295 to $2,495 (time-sensitive discounts available)

This event has evolved from Dell's EMC World conferences. Attendees can learn about what Dell sees on the horizon, as well as develop new skills and strategies to advance their careers and refine their road maps for the future. They'll also get hands-on time with the latest technologies from Dell and meet up with experts who work on the technology.

Who should attend: IT pros, business managers, Dell customers, and partners

Cisco Live

Twitter: @CiscoLive / #CLUS
Web: ciscolive.com/us/
Date: May 31-June 4
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Cost: $695 to $3,195 (time-sensitive discounts available)

Cisco's annual user conference is designed to inform attendees about the company's latest products and technology strategies for networking, communication, security, and collaboration. The conference draws about 25,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors, and features about 600 sessions.

Who should attend: Cisco customers from IT and business areas

[ Learn how to optimize your Enterprise Service Management (ESM). Plus: Get TechBeacon's Buyers Guide to ESM Products ]

June

Big Data & AI Toronto

Twitter: @BigDataTO / #BigDataTO
Web: bigdata-toronto.com
Date: June 3-4
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Cost (2018): Expo, free; conference, CA$500 to CA$1,000

A conference and trade show, Big Data Toronto, which is co-located with AI Toronto, brings together a diverse group of data analysts, data managers, and decision makers. The event features more than 150 speakers, over 90 exhibitors, and in excess of 5,000 attendees—making it one of Canada's top conferences for networking with other data scientists.

Who should attend: Data scientists, data analysts, and business analysts

Monitorama

Twitter: @Monitorama / #monitorama
Web: monitorama.com
Date: June 8-10
Location: Portland, Oregon, USA
Cost: $700

Monitorama has become popular thanks to its commitment to purely technical content without a lot of vendor fluff. The conference brings together the biggest names from the open-source development and operations communities, who then teach attendees about the tools and techniques that are used in some of the largest web architectures in the world. Its focus is strictly on monitoring and observability in software systems, which the organizers feel is an area in much need of attention. The goal of the organizers is to continue to push the boundaries of monitoring software, while having a great time in a casual setting.

Who should attend: Developers and DevOps engineers, operations staff, performance testers, and site reliability engineers

DockerCon US

Twitter: @DockerCon
Web: docker.com/dockercon
Date: June 15-18
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost (2019): $1,080 to $1,600 (time-sensitive and group discounts available); workshops, $100 each

DockerCon is a multitrack conference sponsored by Docker and focusing on that platform and its ecosystem. It includes keynotes, workshops, hands-on labs, and a "hallway track" for conference-goers to find like-minded people with whom they can share ideas in a structured way. The family-friendly forum offers childcare services for attendees and activities for spouses.

Who should attend: Developers, DevOps engineers, CxOs, and managers

O'Reilly Infrastructure & Ops Conference

Twitter: @OReillyInfraOps / #OReillyInfraOps
Web: conferences.oreilly.com/infrastructure-ops/io-ca
Date: June 15-18
Location: Santa Clara, California, USA
Cost: Not yet available

This and its sister event in Berlin, Germany (November 16-19), have replaced O'Reilly's Velocity conference. They focus on providing the training and tools needed to successfully manage existing legacy systems while migrating to modern and responsive, predictive, scalable, and cost-effective infrastructure—without interrupting day-to-day business operations.

Who should attend: Systems engineers, systems architects, application developers, DevOps practitioners, site reliability engineers, cloud engineers, senior developers and engineers, researchers and academics, tech leads and engineering managers, vice presidents of engineering, and teams engaged in operations, infrastructure, and cloud ecosystems

Gartner Infrastructure, Operations & Cloud Strategies Conference

Twitter: #gartnerio
Web: gartner.com/en/conferences/emea/infrastructure-operations-cloud-germany
Date: June 16-17
Location: Frankfurt, Germany
Cost: €2,275 to €2,875, plus VAT (time-sensitive, public-sector, and group discounts available)

This conference primarily focuses on scaling DevOps along with cloud computing and operations automation. Attendees come to learn about the biggest IT infrastructure and operations challenges, priorities, and trends.

Who should attend: Infrastructure and operations executives and strategists, IT operations managers, data center and infrastructure managers, I&O architects, and project leaders

[ Get up to speed on IT Operations Monitoring with TechBeacon's Guide. Plus: Download the Roadmap to High-Performing IT Ops Report ]

August

Gartner Catalyst Conference

Twitter: #GartnerCAT
Web: gartner.com/en/conferences/na/catalyst-us#
Date: August 24-27
Location: San Diego, California, USA
Cost: $3,150 to $3,825 (time-sensitive, public-sector, and group discounts available)

Featuring more than 50 Gartner analysts, Catalyst promises a deep dive into the digital enterprise's architectural requirements, touching on areas such as mobility, cloud architecture, data analytics, enterprise-scale security and identity, software-defined data centers, DevOps, and digital productivity via mobile and cloud. Gartner has described Catalyst as "technically focused and committed to pragmatic, how-to content" so that attendees can return to their workplaces "with a blueprint for project planning and execution."

Who should attend: Technical professionals in roles including applications, business intelligence, infrastructure, operations, security, and risk

VMworld

Twitter: @VMworld / #VMworld
Web: https://www.vmworld.com/en/us/index.html
Date: August 30-September 3
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Cost (2019): $2,395 to $1,895 (time-sensitive, group, VMworld alumni, VMUG Advantage level members, VMware Certified Professionals, public-sector, and education discounts available)

VMworld is a five-day conference with general sessions on the trends relevant to business and IT. The conference also includes breakout sessions, group discussions, hands-on labs, VMware certification opportunities, expert panels, and one-on-one appointments with leading subject-matter experts.

Who should attend: Sysadmins, IT engineers, software architects, vice presidents of IT, and CxOs

September

Spiceworld

Twitter: @Spiceworks
Web: spiceworks.com/spiceworld
Date: September 15-17
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Cost: $199 to $599 (time-sensitive discounts available)

Spiceworld brings together thousands of IT pros, dozens of sponsoring vendors, and hundreds of tech marketers for three days of practical how-to sessions, tech conversations with key vendors, in-the-trenches stories from IT pros, networking, and "tons of fun," according to the organizers.

Who should attend: IT managers, operations engineers, help desk staff, and sysadmins

Interop ITX

Twitter: @interop / #Interop
Web: interop.com
Date: September 21-24
Location: Austin, Texas, USA
Cost: All access, $2,499 to $3,099; training, $1,699 to $2,299; conference, $1,699 to $2,299 (time-sensitive, government, education, nonprofit, and group discounts available)

A venerable tech conference, Interop delves into topics such as networking, security, automation/IT management, cloud environments, collaboration, data and analytics, DevOps, hardware/systems, infrastructure, talent/teams/tactics, and wireless/mobility. The first two days of the conference are training workshops, certifications, and deep dives, and the last two offers a smorgasbord of more than 60 50-minute sessions that enable event-goers to build a personal program that meets their business objectives.

Who should attend: CEOs, CTOs, CIOs, developers, software architects, site reliability engineers, and system architects

Oracle OpenWorld

Twitter: @oracleopenworld
Web: oracle.com/openworld
Date: September 21-24
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Cost (2018): $1,450 to $2,050 (time-sensitive and government discounts available)

Oracle’s biggest event of the year, OpenWorld draws tens of thousands of customers, partners, and Oracle executives from around the world eager to hear the latest about the company's products, including its databases and business applications. Sister conferences are scheduled for earlier in the year in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (January 14-15); London, UK (February 12-13); Singapore (March 21-22); and São Paulo, Brazil (June 17-18).

Who should attend: Oracle customers, partners, developers, and IT Ops pros

October

451 Research’s Hosting & Cloud Transformation Summit

Twitter: @451Research / #451HCTS
Web: 451research-hcts.com
Date: October 5-7
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Cost (2018): $1,199 to $2,695 (time-sensitive discounts available)

In 2019, this conference attracted more than 500 attendees, had more than 50 speakers, and offered an innovation showcase with over 30 solution providers. Topics at the event included making infrastructure invisible by simplifying a jumble of clouds, containers, and venues; looking at the data center of the future; building value to avoid the commodity trap; and discovering what customers want in multi-cloud and hybrid IT.

Who should attend: Service providers, hardware/software vendors, and investors

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo

Twitter: #GartnerSYM
Web: gartner.com/en/conferences/na/symposium-us
Date: October 18-22
Location: Orlando, Florida, USA
Cost: $4,775 to $6,425 (time-sensitive, public-sector, and group discounts are available)

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo is aimed specifically at CIOs and technology executives in general, addressing topics from an enterprise IT perspective. These include mobility, cybersecurity, cloud computing, application architecture, application development, the Internet of Things, and digital business.

Who should attend: CIOs and senior IT execs

November

Microsoft Ignite

Twitter: @MS_Ignite / #MSIgnite

Web: microsoft.com/en-us/ignite

Date: November 2-8

Location: Orlando, Florida, USA

Cost (2018): Full conference, $2,220; academic, $1,395; student, $995

Microsoft created Ignite in 2014 to consolidate several smaller conferences: Microsoft Management Summit, Microsoft Exchange Conference, SharePoint Conference, Lync Conference, Project Conference, and TechEd. Ignite covers architecture, deployment, implementation and migration, development, operations and management, security, access management and compliance, and usage and adoption. Although it's organized by Microsoft and focuses on its products, it also draws more than 100 vendors that participate in the expo and as sessions speakers.

Who should attend: Microsoft developers

Salesforce Dreamforce

Twitter: @salesforce / @Dreamforce / #DF20
Web: salesforce.com/form/dreamforce
Date: November 9-12
Location (2019): San Francisco, California, USA
Cost (2019): $1,599 to $2,299 (time-sensitive discounts available)

Sponsored by Salesforce, the Dreamforce conference is a four-day event and one of the largest software conferences in the world. The 2019 event attracted 171,000 registered attendees and had more than 2,700 sessions and workshops. Speakers included Gucci CEO Marco Bizzari, chef and activist Dominique Crenn, and the CEO and co-founder of Ellevest, Sallie Krawcheck. Salesforce also made some significant announcements at the gathering, such as the launch of Einstein Voice and Customer 360 Truth, as well as expanded partnerships with Amazon and Apple.

Who should attend: Salesforce customers

Service Management World

Twitter: #SMWorld
Web: www.smworld.com
Date: November 15-19
Location: Orlando, Florida, USA
Cost (2019): $1,899 to $2,599 (time-sensitive and group discounts available)

This event is staged by HDI, an events and services organization for the technical support and services industry. It includes an expo hall, training sessions, learning tracks, and keynote speeches. During the 2019 conference, general sessions included discussions such as "How Digital Transformation Is Shaping the New World of Work," "Establishing a Trusted Partnership between IT and the Business," and "Augmenting Human Creativity in the Age of Artificial Intelligence."

Who should attend: Service and technical support professionals

AWS re:Invent

Twitter: @AWSreInvent / #reInvent
Web: reinvent.awsevents.com
Date: November 30-December 4
Location (2019): Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Cost (2019): $1,799

AWS re:Invent is the Amazon Web Services annual user conference, which brings customers together to network, engage, and learn more about AWS. The event features keynote speeches, training sessions, certification opportunities, technical sessions, an expo floor, and networking activities.

Who should attend: AWS customers, developers and engineers, system administrators, and systems architects

Review the options and make your choices soon: Prices may vary based on how early you register. Also, remember that hotel and travel costs are generally separate from the conference pricing.

We've listed them all, although not all dates, locations, and pricing were available at publication time, especially for those events taking place later in the year. In those cases, we have provided historical information on the event to give you an idea of what to expect and what you'll get out of attending.

And keep checking back. We'll update this guide as more information becomes available.

What are your favorite conferences and why? Post your comments below. And let us know if there are any other events or conferences we missed.

Image courtesy of @strataconf.

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